Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Rosemary Parmesan Cream Sauce

Thanksgiving week is here!

Since I know my workouts might be lighter towards the end of the week, I hit the studio I teach at extra early for a solo Monday morning workout before I got the rest of my day started.  I love starting the day with a good workout.  Today I actually have fun plans – lunch with a college friend that now lives in Texas.  She’s here visiting family and I’m thrilled we were able to sneak in a little lunch date.  Post-lunch, I’m off to Trader Joe’s to do my Thanksgiving grocery haul so that I can get started on turkey day prep.

I had plans to share some cookies with you today but I just can’t keep last night’s dinner from you.  It was that good.  And I quote, “this is in the top 5 fall dinners ever” – Big Guy.  Yes, it was that good.

We used some of our homegrown sweet potatoes to make sweet potato gnocchi that was then tossed with the richest, most delicious rosemary parmesan cream sauce.  Gnocchi isn’t all that hard to make – it’s a simple mixed of cooked sweet potato (I used the microwave to cook and then riced them), ricotta, an egg, flour and salt.  That’s it!  Mix and then roll into “ropes” that you then cut into bite size pieces.  The gnocchi cooks in boiling water and they tell you when they’re done by floating to the top.  The sauce was made by browning butter and then adding in rosemary, cream, freshly grated parm, freshly grated nutmeg, a little but of cayenne, and some salt and pepper.


I can’t even describe this deliciousness.  The gnocchi are tender and a little sweet and the parmesan cheese sauce is perfection.  I loved the hint of heat from the cayenne.

I’m trying to figure out when I can make this dinner again – I’m thinking when my parents come to visit sometime in the near future.  My dad would LOVE this meal.

And since I teased you with a promise of a cookie recipe, I’ll be back tomorrow with that!


Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup

October is here and I’m officially ready for some fall weather.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that my favorite season has come to and end but I could do without any more sunburns (yes, my arms fried at the football game on Saturday).  In an attempt to lure fall to Eastern NC, I brought fall to the kitchen last night.

Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup not only has all the flavors of fall (without pumpkin) but it’s also incredibly comforting.  Sweet potatoes and white beans bulk up the soup and make it protein packed and filling while also being vegetarian.  The flavor comes from sautéed red onion, garlic and sage.  A little milk makes it super creamy.  Once blended, each bowl is topped with sweet, tart, and crunchy apples (Golden Delicious apples are my fav right now) and a dollop of Greek yogurt.


Now if only we could get our crisp, cool weather to stay past 9am.

Sesame-Ginger-Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

If you’re in a dinner rut you must try these stuffed sweet potatoes.  So many flavors and textures.  This recipe was in a recent issue of Cooking Light in a section that focused on the use of “tahini,” a rich sesame seed “butter” that can be used in everything from savory soups to desserts.  I’ve found that Trader Joes has the best tahini for the price but you can find it at Harris Teeter and some other local grocery stores.

The most time consuming part of the recipe is baking the sweet potatoes but once their in the oven, you can forget about them for an hour.  Pierce the potatoes with a knife or fork and rub with a little oil before baking at 400 degrees.

Once the potatoes are baked, remove from the oven and let them rest (and cool!) a little bit.  Now it’s time to roast your chickpeas.  Rinse and drain the beans before tossing with sesame oil, garlic powder, ground ginger, and salt.  Roast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

While the chickpeas roasted, prep your sauces.  The tahini sauce is made with tahini (make sure to stir it really well), spicy fresh ginger, garlic and rice vinegar.  It is thinned out a bit with the addition of warm water.  Whisk until creamy and smooth.  The other “sauce” is simply Sriracha mixed with a little water.

To serve, halve the potatoes and score with a knife.  Top with the tahini sauce and a sprinkle of salt.  Add the roasted chickpeas and then top with a little more tahini and some of the spicy Sriracha mixture.


Incredibly delicious.  Incredibly healthy.  Incredible filling.  This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and perfect for any night of the week.

Spicy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Potato Greens

Did you know that North Carolina grows more sweet potatoes than any other state?

Did you know that you can eat the sweet potato greens?

I adore sweet potatoes and we grew them for the first time a few years ago.  Each year we look forward to our small crop of homegrown sweet potatoes.  But this year I refused to let the greens go to waste.  We won’t harvest the sweet potatoes for a few more weeks but last night I used the greens in our dinner.

The greens are more tender than collards and sweeter than spinach.

Spicy Coconut Shrimp was a perfect pairing for the sweet potato greens.  Here’s how it’s made:

First I chopped up a couple of sweet potatoes, tossed them with a little coconut oil and salt and put in the oven to roast.  The sweet potatoes served as the bed for the spicy coconut shrimp.

Next I sautéd chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, a diced jalapeño, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and hot curry powder in some more coconut oil.  Once those were tender and fragrant, I added in one cup of coconut milk and allowed it to simmer for five minutes.  Add in the shrimp and cook for two minutes and finally wilt in the sweet potato greens.

The spicy coconut shrimp is served on top of the roasted sweet potato greens and then topped with green onions for some freshness.


This dinner was absolutely amazing!  I’m hoping that I can used the greens in at least one more recipe before we harvest the potatoes.

The perfect balance of sweet and spicy and so many textures in this bowl of homegrown goodness.

Sweet Potato Bread

By now most of you know that when I have company coming into town I bake muffins.  But did you know that most Fridays if we’re planning to be home for the weekend I bake bread?

It’s true.  I think it’s nice to have a little something to nibble on in the morning (or as a snack) and it’s a change of pace from the normal Monday through Friday routine.

But seriously – what isn’t too love about homemade bread?  Or any other baked goodie for that matter?

This sweet potato bread is inspired by carrot cake (Big Guy’s favorite) and I knew he would flip over a slice of this raisin-studded, pecan-filled loaf that also included some homegrown sweet potato.

The loaf of bread is then topped with a light cream cheese frosting that has a fresh lemon zing.

It’s perfection.  And I can already tell you that this recipe immediately got filed in the “make again” folder.



Cheddar and Broccoli Sweet Potatoes

Knowing that Monday was going to be super busy, I picked this recipe in confidence that Big Guy could help get dinner started just in case I got home later than expected.  And I did get home later than expected – an hour later.  Thankfully Big Guy is fully capable of moving around the kitchen so I asked him to pop the potatoes in the oven so they would be tender and ready to be stuffed once I arrive home.  And if you are really running short on time, you can totally throw the potatoes in the microwave and this recipe will come together in 15 minutes.


I rarely take the time to cook sweet potatoes in the oven but they are so must better than cooking them in the microwave.  The broccoli and cheese topping is super easy, too. Sauté a little (or a lot) of garlic in some olive oil and then add in the chopped broccoli florets.  Add in a little water (or broth) and put the lid on the skillet to allow the broccoli to steam.  After a few minutes, remove the lid and add in crushed red pepper, salt and the cheese.  Mmmm, cheese.  Cook for a minute or until the cheese is melted.

That’s it!  Split the potato and add a little sprinkle of salt before topping with the broccoli and cheese mixture.

So good.

So simple.


Tailgate Thursday {bourbon-candied ginger and onion dip with homemade sweet potato chips}

With a drink in hand, we cheered loudly for the Pirates this past Saturday but we just couldn’t stand up to our competition.

Regardless of who wins any football game, the food and drink around our house is always winning.

On the drink menu, a French Tropics Summer Punch.  But I like to call it Pirate Punch for a fun tailgate cocktail.

In a pitcher, or small punch bowl, combine 3/4 cup vodka (we are partial to Tito’s), 3/4 cup St. Germain, 1 cup pineapple juice, 1 cup orange juice and 2 cups prosecco.  Serve over ice.

This is a fantastic drink for a tailgate because you can multiple the amounts to make a big batch and it’s a great make-ahead drink.

Warning: this is a potent drink!

(and yes, I have a chipped nail – I promise I will get it fixed this week.)

And to munch, bourbon-candied ginger and onion dip with homemade-homegrown (!!!) sweet potato chips.

This dip is another great addition to any tailgate because you can make it ahead.  (and some parts of this recipe you need to do in advance – like the candied ginger.)

For the candied ginger, thin slices of ginger are simmered in a combination of water, bourbon and sugar.  After simmering for 25 minutes, the ginger is removed from the bourbon simple syrup and transferred to a drying rack.  After about an hour, combine the ginger with 1/4 cup sugar and toss.  Spread that back out and allow to dry.  I did this the night before and let them dry overnight on the drying rack.

For the dip, onions, scallions, shallots and garlic are cooked over medium for about 20 minutes or until golden and caramelized.

The onions are transferred to a food processor and pureed.  The remaining ingredients are then added to the food processor, including Worcestershire sauce, Greek yogurt (I used 2% but you could also use sour cream), Duke’s mayonnaise, soy sauce, a little lemon juice, and the candied ginger.

Pulse until all the ingredients are combined.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed (I added more pepper than salt).

Allow this to chill.

sweet potatoes

During halftime, we fried our thinly sliced homegrown sweet potatoes.  How gorgeous is that purple sweet potato?!?!


This recipe worked perfectly (and the BBQ seasoning was incredible).

The end result was perfect for any tailgate.

And I have to admit – I was a little skeptical of this recipe.  I honestly was afraid that the bourbon-candied ginger was going to overpower the dip.  But the good news is that it didn’t.  I’d consider this an upgrade on a typical onion dip.

Now we’re 1-2 and facing Virginia Tech at home on Saturday.  Kick-off time is 3:30pm so I’m preparing a tailgate menu that includes food that travels easy (since we have an hour drive) but that’s hearty enough to count as lunch since we all know Big Guy will probably make me leave the house at 8:30am.